The three lucky winners of the RYA Sail for Gold Good Luck card competition enjoyed a wonderful day out when they visited the Skandia Sail for Gold regatta and got to present their winning cards to members of the British Olympic and Paralympic Team.

Millie Irish, Toby Widdow, Abby Hanna

Millie Irish, Abby Hanna and Toby Widdow

Millie Irish (aged eight), Toby Widdows (aged nine) and Abby Hanna (aged 15) were chosen from amongst hundreds of entries by RYA Olympic Manager Stephen ‘Sparky’ Park as winners in each of their age categories, winning them a day out at the Skandia Sail for Gold regatta and the opportunity to get up close and personal with their sailing heroes.

“My card was a picture of a boat made out of the GB flag with pictures of the Team on it”, Toby told us.  “If felt tremendous when I found out I had won and I’d really like to meet Ben Ainslie, I’m so excited I can’t wait to see him and all the sailors” he continued.

In the 13-16 age group, winner, Hanna drew a fantastic picture of a Paralympic class boat that really took the judges eye.  “I was rather surprised to have won but it will be great to meet any of the sailors as they are all very interesting people.  It’s been really cool coming along today.”

The youngest winner Millie, draw a wonderful flag design with a statement that Sparky felt the team should heed… ”Good Luck, but win”.

Throughout the day the winners and their families received a full tour of the Weymouth and Portland Sailing Academy, which will become home to the summer Olympic and Paralympic Games, before heading over to the Nothe to watch the women’s 470 and RS:X finals.  It was then back to the boat park to collect some autographs as the sailors came in from racing.

Ben Ainslie, Abby Hanna, Niki Birrill, Toby, Millie Irish and Hannah Mills

(from left) Ben Ainslie, Abby Hanna, Niki Birrill, Toby Widdow, Millie Irish and Hannah Mills

Finally it was time to present their cards.  In front of the whole of Skandia Team GBR the youngsters were presented to the team and asked to tell them about their cards before being joined by Ben Ainslie, Niki Birrell and Hannah Mills to officially hand over their good luck cards.

“It’s been a really fun day for all our winners and their families” explained RYA Sail for Gold co-ordinator Celia Edgington.  “It has really enthused the youngsters to get out sailing more and they all seemed genuinely excited to have met the sailors.  It’s been a big day”.

The Sail for Gold Good Luck Card competition is part of the RYA’s Sail for Gold initiative which aims to bring the excitement of the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games to sailing clubs and training centres across the country in the lead up to and during the Games.  It seeks to inspire new and existing sailors to get out on the water, make clubs the focal point for members to join in the spirit of the Olympics, and maximise support for the British Sailing Team.